ONE OF the major surprises of last week's NAB AFL Draft was the slide of rugged Geelong Falcons midfielder Rhys Mathieson.
After back-to-back All Australian selections, the ball-hunting 18-year-old was widely tipped to be taken inside the first 25 picks.
But Mathieson sat and sat – and sat – as he fell all the way to the Brisbane Lions at pick No.39.
Now at his new club, the knockabout teenager has told AFL.com.au what a nervous night it was and he wasn't sure why his stock dropped.
"I can't really answer that one," Mathieson said.
"I was predicted a first-round pick, that's what I was told, but there was no promises there, so I was just sitting at home wanting to get on a list.
"It got to No.39 and the Lions got me. I was nervous waiting up until then, but I'm very grateful for the spot on this list.
"I was definitely getting a bit fidgety standing up and down off the couch. I was definitely nervous and the numbers kept ticking by and I just wanted to go.
"When the Lions called me it was a big relief."
Mathieson has earned a reputation through his junior career as a midfield battering ram, a clearance king.
He was a St Kilda supporter but models his game on Geelong superstar Joel Selwood.
Mathieson averaged 25 disposals (12 contested) and seven clearances in the TAC Cup and even pocketed 17 touches in his only VFL appearance for Geelong.
Like most draftees, he's happy to bide his time, aiming to play "one senior game" next year, but the Lions lack where he is strongest.
Contested footy has been horrendous in Brisbane the past few years, and again in 2015 they were ranked 17th on averages.
Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson and Tom Rockliff were the top contested ball and clearance winners last season, but in an ideal setup, they would be half-forwards drifting into the midfield, rather than the grunt men at the bottom of packs.
If he's good enough, Mathieson will get chances.
For the time being, he's living with Lions CEO Greg Swann and settling into his new city and club.
"Swanny's wife Leonie is a great cook, she's feeding me well," Mathieson laughed.